Manmohan Singh meets Chief Ministers over price rise

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New Delhi, Feb 6 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has begun a meeting with chief ministers on the issue of combating a surging inflation.

Dr. Singh is likely to ask states to improve the Public Distribution System (PDS) and increase farm productivity.

The meeting will also review the implementation of the essential commodities act to check the hoarding of food items.

The meeting comes a day after a Congress Working Committee (CWC) over prices in which Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar came under fire for his handling of the crisis. Many Congress leaders hit out at the minister without actually naming him.

Congress party has faced flak from various opposition parties over the rising prices of essential commodities.

The wholesale price index rose 7.3 percent in December from a year earlier, its highest since November 2008, and accelerated from a 4.8 percent gain in November.

The rise was driven by near 20 percent jump in food prices, which rose on weak monsoon rains and flooding in parts of the country, but inflation in manufacturing products picked up to 5.2 percent from four percent in November, a sign that inflationary pressures were spreading to other sectors of the economy.

Sugar, in particular, has been a problem, with Congress party caught in the middle of competing demands from consumers who want lower prices while cane farmers seek higher prices for their produce.

The supply situation deteriorated further in recent months when Uttar Pradesh, seeking to help cane farmers, banned processing raw sugar, jamming 750,000 tonnes of raw sugar at ports. (ANI)

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